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Advice for a week in Scotland

Four adults and a 13 year old will be in Scotland six full days Oct 12 to 18 for the first time. We want to experience the highlands and Edinburgh. We have come up with two options, but we are open to others: First - stay the whole time in Edinburgh and take a couple day tours into the highlands. Second - stay 3 or 4 days in Edinburgh and take the train to Oban for the rest of the time and maybe take a day tour from there. Oban sounds really nice but it seems like a lot or travel to get there and back to Edinburgh. We are not planning to do any driving and have started looking at Robbie's tours. We are open to other considerations for the week.

Posted by
6714 posts

I'm not at all sure what tours will be running from Oban in late October, which is very late in the season. The latest West Coast Tours are listing to is 5 October.
Rabbies are listing a 4 day West Coast tour on 15 October. They are nimble enough to reschedule/reroute if the weather disrupts the ferries to Mull and Iona- quite a good chance of that happening in October.

Posted by
7648 posts

What about going to Inverness after Edinburgh, then flying out of Scotland from the Inverness airport?

Posted by
99 posts

My advice would be to stay in Edinburgh and take day trips. Like any trip, you need to decide what is worth your time, money and of course your level of interest in a site/activity - especially considering a 13 year old.

Break up the days with specialty tours in Edinburgh. We find these a great way to experience a city.

We found the public transportation system very easy to use to get around.

Avoid Oban, IMHO it is not worth your time to visit.

Posted by
906 posts

I would also choose to stay in Edinburgh and do day trips from there. There are many to choose from, plus all of the various city tours and museums and the castle. Often, you can see more by staying in one place than you can when you pack an and change locations. Checking out of your hotel in Edinburgh, catching a train to Oban, and checking into the next hotel will really eat into your limited time.

Posted by
2063 posts

With only 6 days don't try and cram too much in. This Rabbie's one day tour from Edinburgh is highly recommended and would give a taste ofthe mountains and Lochs. DO NOT be tempted by tours to Glencoe and Loch Lonmond from Edinburgh- they involve hours and hours sitting in a bus.

If you wanted something different to Edinburgh, think of a couple of days on Isle of Arran - easily reached by train to Glasgow and Adrossan and then ferry from Ardrossan. It is often described as Scotland in miniature.

Posted by
2744 posts

I vote for Edinburgh the whole time too. Oban is nothing special, but it’s a jumping off point for boat tours to Mull, Iona, Staffa, and other islands.

Posted by
40 posts

Thanks again, we have decided to stay the week in Edinburgh and do a one day tour to the highlands. So I'm looking for some more input on single day tours. Our 13 year old would be crazy for the Jacobite train ride but it appears to be currently suspended and it is surprising how much more expense the tour is that includes it, maybe I'm missing something. Any input between Robbies and Highland Explorer would be appreciate

Posted by
6714 posts

The afternoon departure of the Jacobite Train is expected to resume in the next few weeks.
Ticket sales are currently suspended, for both morning and afternoon trains.
When the second train does restart ticket sales MAY possibly resume.

You can travel over exactly the same route by ordinary service train for far less money, and have more time in Mallaig. About 7am from Edinburgh, back at about 10.30 pm. Change at Glasgow in each direction.
Currently any tour company who claims to have Jacobite Train tickets should be treated with great suspicion.

Posted by
1 posts

I just wanted to add this reminder to take lots of warm clothing and sturdy walking shoes, even in the summer. I just heard from someone who said they went to Scotland in the summer and "froze the whole time".

Posted by
2063 posts

froze the whole time

Temperature can be difficult - a lot depends on what you are used to. If you come from somewhere with temperatures in the high 20˚s and above then Scotland will feel a lot cooler. If however you are used to temperatures in the teens you will be fine! There is also the wind chill factor too. This can make the temperature feel a lot cooler than the thermometer says it is.

I have walked in shirt sleeves in the Western Isles in October. Be prepared with layers to add or take off and a windproof waterproof top is also a bonus. Hat, scarf and gloves don't take up much space and do help keep you warm.

Posted by
14 posts

I think you're missing out by only doing day trips from Edinburgh.The best scenery re the Highlands is in the west so with an Edinburgh start, that's going to mean a long day on a tour bus.If the 13 yr old is keen on doing that train journey it seems a shame not to incorporate it.I'd give Edinburgh two full days then look at what multiple day tours Rabbies or Highland Explorer or any other operators (there are quite a few) are offering.Tours run all year round.
Oban is best if you plan on going on to Mull or other islands, IMO.It's a buzzy, busy fairly workaday small town set on a beautiful bay, with island ferries coming and going all the time.Plenty of shops and a few cafes/restaurants etc plus a couple of castles which will still be open in October.That said, I've had a lovely time on a nice sunny day in Oban.
It does depend on how well your 13 year old travels on a day trip but if it has to be one single day, at least try to get a tour that heads west for the most impressive landscapes.